Hola! From Managua, Nicaragua, Central America
The trip started out with hiccups right away with us having baggage fees that we were not made aware of beforehand which made us all very anxious, however the first two days in Managua were very informative. On Sunday, we spent most of the day flying from Ohio to Managua while stopping I’m Miami. The flying completely exhausted us. Once we arrived in Managua, we were graciously welcomed by our trip leader fro, El Salvador, César and our driver, Hector.
Once we settled into our hotel, we took a tour of the city and visited several landmarks such as the statute of the silhouette of Sandino. On Monday we met with Joseph Connelly with The Center for Global Education, who gave us a history lesson on Nicaragua which really peaked my interest. We learned a great deal about the relationship between Nicaragua and the US as well as the corruption and manipulation that the US force upon the Nicaraguan culture. In addition to that we learned about the division of the country. The eastern side of Nicaragua is very rural and distant from the western side of Nicaragua. Joseph explained that the two sides of the country are like their own country as they operate separately even though they are under the same government. The eastern side is more autonomous and take justice into their own hands. We also learned about FSLN and the Contra War that Ronald Reagan put forth during his time in office. We also learned about the war on drugs with the FBI and the black neighborhoods.
We also went to NicaHope. This organization works with kids from the local trash dump community. Though the community has a recycling plant now instead of a trash dump, the children are still helped. The organization was created to teach the kids other ways to make money so they don’t have to leave school to work at the trash dump. They make homemade jewelry to sell. We also had a chance to tour the facilities and buy some of the jewelry that they made.
During the first days in Nicaragua not only did we engage with the Nicaraguan people and their culture, but we also got to understand how even through corruption and economic hardship, they stand tall and fight the social injustices that affect their society and community on a daily basis.
People always asked me why I chose a 3rd world country to study abroad in over a place like Australia or England. Right when I stepped out of the airport this past Sunday I was reassured that I made the right choice, even more excited to drown myself in a new culture.
Throughout our first week here we have gone to several places and met with an array of people. The first day, we did a tour of Managua, Nicaragua — the first city we stayed in. Below is the Old Cathedral here in Managua that was destroyed by an earthquake back in the 1970s. Though it may seem destroyed, it was still a gorgeous site to see.
When you are here in Managua you will constantly see these trees, Trees of Life, when driving down the roads and an assortment of them at the lake.
Vice President Rosario Murillo (who, mind you, is also the president’s wife YOU GO GIRL) is the one who transformed the capital to have these trees that symbolize a new vision. But, after doing some research, I found out that some of the general public isn’t fond of these trees and how much they cost to put them up and keep them running.
So far this week we have learned about Nicaraguan history and the current political and economic situation, talked with ANICP + VIDA about HIV and AIDS here, and had a wonderful conversation about feminism with María Teresa Blandón. With our talks, we also visited an organization named NicaHOPE, pictured below.
NicaHOPE is a program that works with children living and/or working in the trash dump — it is also a preventative program to try and keep them out of ever having to work at the trash dump. It aims to keep these children in school and do so by providing after school programs and teaching them about making and selling jewelry. (If you’re interested in some jewelry, which I highly recommend, visit NicaHOPE.org). At the end of the week, we stayed with host families in León which I can’t wait to share more about in my next post!
It has been 5 days since we arrived here in Nicaragua, and so much has already happened! Walking out of the airport into Managua, Nicaragua I immediately realized what would be the worst part of the trip. THE HEAT!! But so it goes.. the day of our arrival was just setting into the hotel and a quick tour of the neighborhood. The first thing you realize is how the homes here are short, and mostly made of brick and stone, without any drywall or insulation. Some might assume that it’s because of the people being poor, but an idea was given to me that it could also be because of how hot it is here, that those houses are the most viable for the heat.
The second day we spoke with Joseph of Center for Global Education. He gave us a run down of the history here. The few key points that I found most interesting and aggravating was that most of the last 100 years the government has been keeping the country from progressing due to arugements between Liberals and Conservatives and then afterwards, corruption keeping the money up top with the president. And then, more angering was that the US made things worse by having a secret war here, which set back the government here a lot. His presentation did a great job at summarizing the history of Nicaragua.
Finally, we did some sightseeing here in Managua and got to see the old and new cathedrals. They were both pretty breathtaking, but personally I liked the old one better. The interesting thing about the new one was that there were political posters hanging from the front. Right now, my mind is a bit in a mess thinking about how bad the government has been to the people, but right now it’s the best they’ve had to they sort of settle.. what else can they do??
Managua street art
Welcome to the blog for the Education Abroad program, Human Rights and Social Issues in Nicaragua! We travel to Managua on Sunday, May 21. Throughout our travels, we will be learning about social issues in Nicaragua and how they are addressed by the government and other institutions. We will also be learning about and experiencing the culture of this Latin American country in the middle of Central America.
Hasta pronto! (see you soon)
Dr. Theresa Early